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Magnum PI (Jay Hernandez) - First episode review

Magnum PI

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

HAWAII Five-O meets The Fast & The Furious for the reboot of Magnum PI, a slick but soulless attempt to revive a once beloved show for easy ratings.

The original Magnum was, of course, played by Tom Selleck, with all the moustache bearing charm he has brought to many a role since. But given that Selleck still casts a formidable presence on TV – thanks to Friends re-runs and Blue Bloods family meal times – the producers of Magnum have opted not to try to recreate that.

Rather, they’ve seen what worked about the Hawaii Five-O reboot, now entering its ninth season, and applied more of the same, albeit with a cinematic flourish courtesy of pilot director and Fast & Furious regular helmer Justin Lin.

But while boasting big screen calibre action to augment its lush Hawaiian scenery, the first episode came up woefully short in all other areas.

The set-up is largely the same as the original series.

Thomas Magnum (played by Jay Hernandez) is an Army veteran (now a decorated Navy SEAL) turned PI who has been rewarded for his bravery by being allowed to live in the guest cottage on the Robin’s Nest, the Hawaiian estate of absentee author (and former war-time journalist) Robin Masters.

Assisting him from time to time are two former SEAL colleagues: chopper pilot TC Calvin (Stephen Hill) and jack-of-all-trades Rick Wright (Zachary Knighton), with whom he also spent time in a POW camp in Afghanistan.

Watching over him, meanwhile, is Higgins (Perdita Weeks), Robin’s Nest’s manager, who keeps Magnum in check, provides some will they/won’t try possibilities and – on the strength of the first episode – lends him expensive Ferraris to trash.

The modern spin here is that Higgins is now a young, sexy, kick-ass woman, designed to add some post TimesUp feminism.

But even this backfires, given that this version of Higgins comes complete with an annoying English accent and an obvious yearning for Magnum’s machismo.

The main problem, thus far, though is the crippling lack of anyone worth caring about. The pilot focused on the kidnapping and murder of another of Magnum’s POW buddies but barely a tear was shed. There was no sense of loss from the testosterone driven men – something that not even Lin’s Fast & Furious movies forgot to include.

Rather, it was banal plot exposition, forgettable quips and tokenistic attempts to show Magnum’s ‘sensitivity’ by offering a consoling arm around the dead friend’s son or divorce advice for another attractive client.

If things continue in this vein, it’ll be a quick departure from the series for me – not that I was expecting anything heavyweight or particularly emotionally compelling.

Magnum was always designed to be an easy watch, the sort of go to you’d seek out when you wanted to put your brain in neutral (or take a break from HBO).

And there were guilty pleasures in the pilot, most of which stemmed from the set pieces (although I have yet to decide whether the wasting of two Ferraris is ballsy or sacrilegious).

It’s just that, once the end credits rolled, there was no really compelling reason to want to return. It’s all very well placing style over substance, but when the emotional output is so shallow and there is so much better (and even average) TV (step forward 9-11) to choose from, do we really need to persevere?

Magnum PI airs on Sky 1 on Wednesday nights at 9pm in the UK.